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MRT Insights

January 28, 2022

Career Planning by Age – A Guide

One misconception people have about their careers is that it should be a straight, increasing line. The phrase “career ladder” has become outdated within the workplace. Rather than “career ladder” which personifies a constant upward movement, you should look at your career from a different perspective. Career planning can look different for everyone, but it is easiest to stay focused by planning around the age ranges of your life.

Now that you have accepted that a “Career Ladder” isn’t for everyone, how can you stay on track and focused?

The best way for your career not to stay static and to make sure you are continuously learning and growing is to create goals. To keep your career moving forward, break down career goals based on what stage you are in your life. At MRT, we like to use SMART goals- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based. This method allows you to generate goals that give you a plan for success and increases your chances of achieving said goal. No matter what stage you are in your career or what age you begin career planning, SMART goals allow you to hone in on the most important parts of your goal.

career planning by age

Career Planning in your 20s and 30s

Your twenties can be a daunting, yet exciting time in your career. Many are joining the workforce for the first time and transitioning from school life to work life. Do not let the unknown of what you want to do, take away from the opportunities in front of you. This is the time to find the job that works for you. Do not be afraid to career-hop, ask questions, join new groups, and enhance your skills. For example, take this time to take certifications outside of work. Another great way to excel in your career is to find a mentor. A mentor will understand where you are and where you want to go. Take chances, but do not waver from setting clear goals that will navigate you in this new phase of your life.

Career Planning in your 40s and 50s

Usually, this stage is seen to have more stability. These individuals are recognized as being at the peak of their careers. Finding a company you love and moving up within the company is the traditional path. Recently, individuals are taking the skills they developed in their 20s and 30s and breaking off to start their own businesses. This is where the “career ladder” is becoming outdated. Breaking off and starting your own organization can lead to a drop in salary and benefits, but the reward and personal gain can be greater in the end. No matter which path you chose, many people in this age group attend conferences and meet with others in their same role or industry to keep up with trends and stay sharp. Networking is always important, and it is a great way to stay connected to the leaders and groundbreakers in your industry.

Career Planning in your 60s and 70s

Career planning at this age typically revolves around the decision of retirement. The individuals in this stage of their career have more career knowledge than anyone in the company. A great goal to have during this time is passing on this knowledge to the newcomers in the organization. The twenty thirty-year old’s are looking for guidance and mentors that can take them to where you are now. Do not hesitate to ask if they would like your advice, as they should be already looking for it. For those looking to work longer, it is important to market yourself as the expert you are. Learn how to use LinkedIn to promote yourself as an industry leader. No matter what path you chose, this stage in your career can feel very overwhelming, yet rewarding. Knowing what you have accomplished and guiding those along the way can be as fulfilling as any career developments you had in the past.


All these phases come with their own hardships and battles but using SMART goals can help guide you through. Do not be intimated by the “career ladder” and understand that your career path will never parallel others. Do not be afraid to change your mind, but always have the support and goals set that you need to succeed.

At MRT, we can guide you through any of these phases and help to understand your goals. We are a recruiting firm, but consulting is one of our many passions. Contact us at any time to talk directly to our recruiters and have your questions answered.

We help build businesses. We form teams that will carry you forward. We are capable, technical, efficient, and effective.